A Massachusetts teen who sent her boyfriend dozens of texts encouraging him to kill himself must stand trial for involuntary manslaughter, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said Friday.
According to court documents, there is probable cause to indict Michelle Carter, then 17, in the death of her boyfriend Conrad Roy III, who was 18, two years ago.
In one instance, she allegedly text messaged him to “get back in” a truck that had been filled with carbon monoxide fumes.
“In sum, we conclude that there was probable cause to show that the coercive quality of the defendant’s verbal conduct overwhelmed whatever willpower the eighteen year old victim had to cope with his depression, and that but for the defendant’s admonishments, pressure, and instructions, the victim would not have gotten back into the truck and poisoned himself to death,” Justice Robert Cordy wrote after a unanimous 7-0 ruling from a grand jury.
Carter’s case drew national attention several months ago when the texts between her and her boyfriend were released publicly. “I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it!” Carter wrote. “You can’t think about it. You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don’t get why you aren’t,” she added in another message.
According to the court papers, Carter, now 19, allegedly told her friend, Samantha Boardman, about the incident.
“I helped ease him into it and told him it was okay, I was talking to him on the phone when he did it I could have easily stopped him or called the police but I didn’t,” Carter told her friend.
The judge also wrote that Carter sought to have Roy delete text messages between the two, suggesting she understood the severity of the repercussions. Her fears were apparently highlighted when she texted Boardman: “Sam, [the police] read my messages with him I’m done. His family will hate me and I can go to jail.”
Carter and Roy had met in Florida while visiting relatives in 2012, and they carried out their relationship nearly entirely through online communications and texting, the Boston Globe reported. They were not together for most of the 3 years.
Prosecutors said Roy and Carter renewed their relationship about a month before he committed suicide.
Carter’s lawyer, Joseph Cataldo, previously argued that Roy was a depressed teenager who had attempted to kill himself. He argued that Roy was trying to convince Carter of a double suicide.
“He ultimately persuaded a young, impressionable girl,” Cataldo told South Coast Today. “Eventually he gets her to endorse his plan.” He allegedly suggested that the two commit suicide together “like Romeo and Juliet.” But Carter didn’t agree and told him: “No, we are not dying.”
Cataldo said the charges against Carter are baseless, as the District Attorney’s Office is “trying to claim there is manslaughter, when they freely admit the boy took his own life,” according to the Standard-Times. “You can’t have it both ways.”